What’s the big deal about requiring people to show proof of vaccination from COVID-19 in order to travel in close quarters with others, such as on airplanes, trains and buses?
That seems to be a sensible precaution to take so as to minimize the risk of transmission of the disease and to help the travel and tourism industries recover from the gut punch they took from the pandemic.
There might be some other venues, too, where so-called “vaccine passports” might calm people’s anxieties and be good for business — such as sports stadiums and concert halls — particularly if social-distancing regulations have been dropped or relaxed. Those sitting next to strangers might like to know that everyone nearby has either been vaccinated or recently tested negative for the coronavirus.
Yet, it’s become the latest point of obstinacy during this health crisis of a growing number of Republican officials, including Mississippi Gov. Tate Reeves. He said in an interview on CNN over the weekend that he was against vaccine passports, although he didn’t elaborate as to why.
GOP leaders in other states have provided their reasons, however. Claiming that proof of vaccination would be an invasion of privacy and could be manipulated by big technology companies, Republican senators in Pennsylvania are drawing up legislation to prohibit vaccine passports being used to bar people from routine activities. GOP governors in Florida, Texas and Idaho have issued executive orders in recent days forbidding their states’ governments from issuing vaccine passports. Florida’s order also bars businesses in that state from requiring proof of vaccination from their patrons.
If electronic snooping is a concern, let the documents be in paper form only, although it’s hard to see in this era of social media that many are all that concerned about privacy. They’ve relinquished a lot more than their vaccination history to Big Tech already so that they can surf the Internet, spread gossip or share their family vacation photos.
Proof of vaccination is not a strange concept in this nation or many others. Travelers to certain countries in Africa and South America have long been required to show proof of vaccination from yellow fever. Other countries, both authoritarian and democratic, have already announced or are planning to implement COVID-19 vaccination requirements for people coming across their borders or traveling within them.
In the United States, it’s also been a general public health policy to require families to provide their children’s proof of vaccination from certain diseases before those children are allowed to start school. Mississippi has one of the most stringent school vaccination policies in the country and has been recognized for its commendably high vaccination rate.
All this hubbub about vaccine passports sounds like more political posturing, just like resistance to facial masks has been and to some degree resistance to the COVID-19 vaccines themselves has been.
It reflects poorly on Republicans to dig in their heels about this. They have had no problem demanding proof of identity in order to vote. It is silly to buck up against requiring proof of vaccination in order to travel and have a good time.
Contact Tim Kalich, editor and publisher of the Greenwood Commnowealth, at firstname.lastname@example.org.